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COUNTRY DEEP DIVE 2: IMPLEMENTATION OF A GLOBAL TREATY COULD SUPPORT AUSTRALIA'S
CIRCULAR ECONOMY TRANSITION AND REDUCE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PLASTIC LIFECYCLE,
INCLUDING THE DAMAGE INFLICTED ON AUSTRALIA'S ECONOMY AND WILDLIFE.
Australia is undertaking reform to transition to a more circular economy,
with strategies set out in its circular economy roadmap and national plastics
plan.210, 211
However, for this plan to be realised, global opportunities and
barriers need to be addressed. A legally binding treaty would provide an
effective enabling framework that Australia is well placed to benefit from
and contribute to.
The minimum lifetime cost of the
plastic produced in 2019 imposed
on Australia is approximately
US$12.25 billion (+/- US$3.45
billion),212
including damage
caused to the economy and
threats to Australia's wildlife.
Australia has a self-confessed
plastic problem;213
around one million tonnes of
single-use plastics.215
Australians
consume 3.5 million tonnes of
plastic waste a year,214
including
Australians
consume more single-use plastic
per capita than any other country
except Singapore at 59 kg per person
per year, compared with a global
average of 15 kg.216
Nearly two thirds
of plastics consumed are imported,217
and 93% of plastic packaging on
the market is virgin plastic.218
While
plastic consumption continues to rise,
improved recovery rates (11.5% in
2018-2019) are not keeping pace. An
estimated 130,000 tonnes of plastic
waste leaks into the environment every
year.219
Plastic pollution is damaging the
Australian economy by negatively
impacting key economic
industries including fisheries,
shipping and tourism. Australia's
marine economy as a fraction of GDP
is the ninth highest out of the 21 APEC
countries.220
Australia's marine economies in 2015
was estimated at more than US$430
million; US$41 million in damages
to fisheries and aquaculture, US$59
million to shipping, and US$330
million to marine tourism.221
These
are direct costs only and exclude a
wide range of remedial (clean-up) and
indirect costs.
Plastic poses significant threats
to Australia's wildlife. An
estimated 15,000-20,000 turtles
have been affected by entanglement
in abandoned, lost or derelict fishing
gear in the northern Gulf region (off
the northern coast of Australia).222
Ingesting just one piece of plastic
increases a turtle's chance of dying by
22%, and 52% of all marine turtles are
estimated to have ingested debris.223
Short-tailed shearwaters, Australia's
most numerous seabird, are also
impacted by plastics with more than
67% of them found to have ingested
plastic.224
Australian scientists are at
the forefront of documenting this issue,
and consistently advocating for policy
solutions that prevent plastic leakage
into the environment.225
What has been done so far:
The total cost of damage to
Australia is taking decisive
action to tackle the plastic crisis.
Environment ministers at national
and sub-national levels have agreed
on eight of the most problematic and
unnecessary single-use plastics to
be phased out by 2025.226
State and
territory governments have already
started phasing out these products. The
Australian government has banned the
export of unprocessed plastic waste
from July 2021227
and established
clear recycling targets to be achieved
by 2025. These include 100% of
packaging being reusable, recyclable or
WWF INTERNATIONAL 2021

TCoPS

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of TCoPS

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http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/annualreview2017
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http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/dalbergreport2013-de
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/dalbergreport2013-fr
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/dalbergreport2013
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwf_france/rapport_dactivite_2011-2012
http://europe.nxtbook.com/nxteu/wwfintl/annualreview2012
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